Friday, October 20, 2020

Office Egos and Hamburger Management

Over at Management Issues, Susan Debnam has an interesting post called "Office egos uncovered". Here's some of what she writes:
Wherever we look we see egos at work. In business (most boardroom battles are about ego), politics, themedia, the church, the armed forces or the local voluntary group. There will always be those who ask primarily 'what's in it for me? How will I look? How will this action affect my career, my status, my credibility?'

So what? You could say organisations have been living with the garrulous, demanding, calculating behavioural manifestations of ego-driven individuals for decades. Some might even argue that corporate life would be the poorer without the energy and charge that egos deliver.

Egos aren't intrinsically bad. They have drive and energy that can be infectious and, if used appropriately, can be highly productive. But they don't come with a user manual. When they reside in individuals or organisations that lack awareness of their impact they can wreak personal and corporate havoc.
Egotism seems to be an intrinsic part of Hamburger Management. I suspect that is because these macho management styles are sold to people on the basis that getting things done, even when it all seems impossible given the time and resources, will make you look good. And egotism is all about me, isn't it? My career, my targets, my job security.

Here are the business qualities and behaviors Ms. Debnam gives as examples of ego-free leadership:
  1. Put the business agenda ahead of your own agenda
  2. Recruit the best person for the role – not just personal supporters
  3. Discourage empires and cliques
  4. Encourage people to challenge the status quo and question existing methods and strategies
  5. Encourage leadership to flourish at all levels of the organisation
  6. Respond to change initiatives according to business need vs personal need
  7. Leave a legacy of ongoing excellence
This sounds very like Slow Leadership to me. All I would want to add is something like this:
  1. Encourage good work and discourage cutting corners, even if it takes longer
  2. Delegate everything you can (and then some)
  3. Never trade off thinking time for mere busyness
  4. Remember success is about creating long-term value, not snatching short-term profits
  5. Enjoy life, it's the only one you have
As Ms. Debnam concludes:
The ripple effect of ego-free leadership is to create a culture in which people are free to take risks, to learn from mistakes and deliver in a way that's less stressful and more creative than in an ego-driven environment.

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Anonymous said...


Could a revolution be taking place? Are there enough peons making it into management and remembering the frustrations they had with management when they were peons? Could this be the beginning of the end of Hamburglar Management? Heh. We'll see...

Also, I'd love to hear your opinion on something I don't see talked about much. Lately the push is to allow workers and businesses to take risks, but in the knee-jerk society/culture we have, the first order of business is if a risk fails that a policy will be put in place to avoid that risk in the future... My question is, how you do handle risk when the risk you took was the wrong one? Looking forward to Slow Leadership's take on when SH*T HAPPENS...

Great read as usual CC.

Dan H

11:33 AM  
Carmine Coyote said...

Great comment, Dan. I'll definitely think my hardest about your questions. It's too important for a quick response in a comment.

Keep reading, my friend.

1:24 PM  
Susan Debnam said...

I am the author of the Ego article. If anyone's interested in reading more I've just published Mine's Bigger Than Yours. Understanding and Handling Egos at Work. Cyan/Marshall Cavendish. ISBN 1-904879-64-0

8:16 AM  
Carmine Coyote said...

Thanks very much for your comment, Susan. I thought your article was great and I strongly urge people to look at your book.

I'm so glad you dropped by.

2:43 PM  

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